Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen yesterday blamed the slow pace of justice delivery on the use of outdated manual methods.
He said the judiciary must adopt technology in its process, or it would be left behind.
According to him, a digitalised society cannot continue to tolerate an analog judiciary.
The CJN said: “Nigeria is a large country. Disputes will come up. They will multiply and explode. Can we handle those disputes by manual processes? No.
“Indeed, you will be more surprised that perhaps, the reason we have volume of cases is because we have not been able to handle them appropriately, efficiently and speedily.”
He spoke during a “Special Session with the CJN on access to justice”, at the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja.
Chief Justice Onnoghen was of the view that full adoption of technology would fast-track justice delivery and restore confidence in the judicial system.
“At any rate, the judiciary needs to be ready; otherwise it will reach a breaking point where the society will be moving fast, buying tickets at homes and withdrawing money at ATM points, but only when they come to court will they find manual processes.
“You don’t expect such a society to tolerate such a legal system for long,” he said.
The CJN, represented by the Chief Judge of Borno State, Justice Kashim Zannah, said there is a judicial information technology policy, which is being implemented and will involve filing of court processes electronically.
“It is important that we know this because without the involvement of the Bar, it cannot work or succeed.
“It is clear that we are at a digital age, as an era where social, economic and political activities and processes are driven by the application of information and communication technology or digital technology.
“Because of that, agreements are digitally formed and the evidence that will come will increasingly be in digital format. We are delivering justice in a digital age for digital citizens and for digital aged disputes.
“The just, efficient and effective resolution of these disputes would have to be driven by the same technology,” Chief Justice Onnoghen said.
Former NBA president Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who chaired the session, urged the association to ensure access to justice and respect for the rule of law.
He regretted that NBA today “sees nothing, hears nothing and does nothing.”
“When we talk about the rule of law, what is the role of the bar association? You are the anchor! We have to remind ourselves what NBA stands for at all seasons.
“It is not just for bread and butter, jamboree or picnics. We have to remind ourselves about the years of yore, and what NBA was doing. So, NBA must rediscover itself when it comes to access to justice,” Olanipekun said.